New Orleans Suspects get a fresh musical start, head to Steamboat
February 17, 2012
Steamboat Springs — This weekend will represent the first time in 33 years that Reggie Scanlan won't be working during Mardi Gras celebrations.
As bassist for the famed New Orleans rock band the Radiators, Scanlan had a standing gig at the M.O.M ball the Saturday before Fat Tuesday for more than three decades.
But as of June 2011, the Radiators were no more, and Scanlan dove headfirst into a new project, the New Orleans Suspects.
Comprising Scanlan, drummer "Mean" Willie Green, keyboard player CR Gruver from Outformation and saxophonist Kevin Harris and guitarist Jake Eckert from the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Suspects sound suspiciously like a New Orleans supergroup.
But this is no supergroup, Scanlan said.
"That was a double-edged sword," he said about the well-known names that make up the band. "It was hard for people to look at it and take it seriously as a full-on project and not a side project.
"But this is not that. We're here."
On Tuesday, Scanlan and the Suspects fly out to Colorado for a run that includes a show at Old Town Pub on Wednesday. The concert starts at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $10, available in advance at the Pub and All That Jazz.
Having played in Colorado for decades, Scanlan said the state feels like a second home.
"There are few places where there seems to be a really strong connection, and there's no real explanation," Scanlan said. "People in Colorado connect with New Orleans music and the culture. They always want to talk about New Orleans stuff. There seems to be an appreciation for it."
The Suspects unofficially began about a year and a half ago when the musicians ended up on stage together at the Maple Leaf Bar in New Orleans.
It was during a time that many of the men, especially Scanlan, were becoming restless with their main bands.
"For the last 10 years, I was kind of looking for something else to do," he said. "For me, things reach a point where they bloom, and that's the end of it. I have a low threshold for boredom."
With the Suspects, the members each found a fresh start and a fresh outlet. Eckert even quit his gig with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band to go full time with the Suspects, whose New Orleans funk stays true to brass music's swampy roots.
"It's heavily based in that New Orleans tradition, but we're doing it more like they did it back in the day," he said. "We're very much in a tradition of the early brass bands."
He said the musicianship has been taken up a level, and he called drummer Green "the heartbeat of New Orleans."
"Because that's what he is," Scanlan said. "He is an incredibly unique drummer. He injects a lot of world beats up into it.
"All of these guys, they're all master musicians. I'm floored that I'm on stage with them every time."
To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com